Activism Is No Longer Something That Belongs To The Radicals
Yesterday afternoon me and my daughter visited our friends at the Broadmeadows detention centre. It’s something we do every Friday and it’s become the highlight of our busy week. We normally bring in something that I’ve cooked that we can enjoy as we sit and chat.
Frustratingly a new rule has been put in place and we are no longer allowed to bring any unpackaged food into the detention centre. Yesterday was our first afternoon without us bringing something home cooked and it was the hardest visit we’ve had so far.
It was so clear that yet another little glimpse of real life had been stripped away from our friends. Such a pointless rule that only highlights our Immigration Department’s attempt at dehumanising a group of people who are already struggling after many years of being locked away with absolutely no indication of how long they will need to wait until they have an answer.
The mood was definitely lower than usual but thankfully my bag of crayons and cardboard had still been allowed through security. Initially only a few of us would feel brave enough to draw but after a few sessions almost everyone participates and we get to laugh at our attempts at being artistic.
I wasn’t feeling very creative though and ended up making a rainbow flag which didn’t require much effort. As an afterthought I wrote the words HUMAN RIGHTS across the colourful flag. As I did the men around the table erupted in clapping and cheering.
“Human Rights!! This is what we want. It’s the same for us.”
One of the men went on to explain that the gay people need human rights just like those seeking asylum in Australia. His voice was quivering with emotion.
That’s the thing with those on the fringes of society, their desire to be valued is what gives them a shared identity. They both feel the sting of being seen as lesser by those who are blind to their own privilege. They all need advocates to speak on their behalf. Many of them are too worn out from their own personal battles or have had to many hopes evaporated as time has gone by.
For those of us who are not directly in the line of fire it’s critical that we do more than just make the right choice when it comes to voting. We need to speak up, we need to educate and we need to show those who are marginalised that they are not alone.
Activism is no longer something that belongs to the radicals. It’s a simple choice of being a participant in society and making sure that when the next chapter of history is written the choices we made in our lifetime were part of the building blocks for a fair and equal future.